One of the things on my list to do after Elizmor’s launch was to see if the sea toilet still worked, as we definitely need one for our trip down south – I think our trusty bucket would splosh over the sides too much at sea! Unfortunately, and somewhat unsurprisingly after sitting unused for 12 years, it didn’t work.
I decided to source a replacement pump unit. Amazingly, Jabsco’s new ‘twist and lock’ manual pump system fitted as a direct replacement/upgrade on my old 1986 unit. I also wanted to replace all of the hose pipes, as they weren’t proper marine sanitation pipes, so they looked horrible and would probably start to smell with use again.
Up until now, most of the projects on board have needed skilled knowledge such as electrics or carpentry, and my dad or Jonny have done most of with those, with me helping out. But this was one project I decided to tackle myself, and it is probably the most practical start-to-finish project I have ever undertaken! I never thought it was possible to get so excited about a toilet.
First of all I ripped out the old stuff – all the horrible bodged pipework filled with crusty poo that had been sat there for 12 years, and the broken pump unit.
Then I went and bought all of the correct bits I needed, including a new Jabsco pump unit, inlet & discharge hose, and anti-syphon vents for each hose. Lots of Jubilee clips too. It was expensive – that lot was about £150 – but you can’t really put a price on a fully functioning toilet.
I managed to install the new pump, but after taking the old hose off, I found that the seacocks had a weird male thread on. The previous installation was bodged around this – the discharge hose had been stretched over the thread, and the inlet hose had a metric fitting which didn’t quit fit properly. I also discovered that the previous toilet had been incorrectly installed (they had installed it as if it was above the waterline, but it’s definitely below) and also didn’t put anti-siphon loops in it, so it could have allowed a siphon back into the boat.
I made sure my install was going to be correct, as you can’t take risks around seacocks, and I also planned to re-route the hose pipes to make it much neater and keep them completely out of the way.
By that point it was 5pm on Sunday afternoon, so I had to wait until Monday to go and source the correct imperial fittings to screw onto the seacocks and then attach the hose to.
On Monday, I went to a place called Tom Parker here in Preston, just a five minute drive from the boat, and was pretty amazed when they had the parts I needed. I’ve been on similar hose-fitting missions before when we were installing the new bilge pumps, and it’s always frustrating when you’re trying to work between metric and imperial.
The bits weren’t cheap – I spent £77 including another box of Jubilee clips – but if you’re going to do a job, you might as well do it properly. The sense of satisfaction is far greater, not to mention immeasurably safer when we will be taking our lives to sea.
It was a bit fiddly to get the hoses onto the seacocks with those new fittings, so Dad helped me put them on. I then had to go and buy a heat gun to get some of the hoses on their connectors, which made it a lot easier – and I was planning on buying a heat gun anyway, to strip the paint off the foredeck which needs some recaulking. (And who would paint a beautiful wooden deck in the first place?!)
So, by the end of day 2, I had put it all together and did a test flush – it works!!!
I spent most of yesterday cleaning up the mess, and giving the whole bathroom a good scrub – at some point we had managed to cover the bath in a fine mist of grey primer paint (I think when we cut out the holes for the fresh water deck filler right above the bath) so I spent absolutely ages scrubbing away at every little spot of paint.
Now I have one working sea toilet in a spotless bathroom. I keep going downstairs just to poke my head in the heads to see how amazing it looks – I really didn’t think it was possible to be so proud of a toilet! I also feel a slight toilet obsession coming on, and am going to be very observant of every sea toilet I come across in the future, to see if they have been installed correctly